It Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World

It Conquered the WorldRoger Corman was a better director than Bert I. Gordon. That’s obvious, of course. Roger Corman is a Hollywood legend, while Gordon is known only to us poor souls who like trash cinema. Corman’s reputation has been burnished by all the successful filmmakers that came through his stable, but he could trash it up with the worst of them. I mention Corman and Gordon in the same breath because today’s It Came from the 1950s entry is almost indistinguishable from the crap Gordon used to turn out. The only major difference is that Corman knew how to end a scene before things got too boring.

It Conquered the World was released in 1956, and was directed and produced by Corman from a screenplay by Lou Rusoff, who penned the execrable Phantom from 10,000 Leagues. This flick is miles better than Phantom, and it still stinks.

It stars Peter Graves as Dr. Paul Nelson, who works on a project launching America’s first satellites into orbit. One of his friends is Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef), a scientist disillusioned with the state of mankind. How fortunate for Dr. Anderson that he finds a friend in an alien being from Venus, one of the last of his race. The alien communicates with Anderson through a radio set in Anderson’s house. The alien is giving Anderson instructions to help pave the way for a Venusian takeover of Earth. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World”

It Came from the ’50s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Regular readers know that we here at Missile Test love us some schlock. Especially the ’50s kind, with its cheap sets, hammy actors, ridiculous monsters, and short ties. At first glance, 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers would fit right in. But, this flick ain’t schlock. Oh, no.

Directed by Don Siegel (who directed some excellent movies — including Dirty Harry), from a screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring, adapting Jack Finney’s novel, Body Snatchers tells the tale of a small town in California whose residents are being replaced by impostors. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Damnation Alley, or, RVing the Apocalypse

Jan-Michael Vincent is dead. He passed mostly unnoticed on February 10th, his death remaining unknown to the media for almost a month. He was, once upon a time, a middling star. His looks were better than his talent, but that’s just what Hollywood wants. His career was derailed by age and substance abuse, as happens to so many in the entertainment industry. He had many roles in mainstream films, but I will always remember him for his contributions to shitty cinema and television. In remembrance of Jan-Michael Vincent, here’s a review for a Vincent star vehicle, that also happened to be a pretty good shitty movie. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Damnation Alley, or, RVing the Apocalypse”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Invasion U.S.A., or, Chuck Norris’s Nightmare, or, Chuck Norris’s Wet Dream

Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus found their cash cow. After Chuck Norris got revenge for the United States losing the Vietnam War in Missing in Action, Golan and Globus wasted no time locking up Chuck to a multi-picture deal at The Cannon Group. Invasion U.S.A. was the first picture under that deal, and it’s just as over the top and stupid as anything else from the Cannon stable. But it also has a mean-spiritedness that will try the viewer. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Invasion U.S.A., or, Chuck Norris’s Nightmare, or, Chuck Norris’s Wet Dream”

Empty Balcony: Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde is an aggressive title for a movie. By that, I mean it’s the type of title that can make a viewer immediately prejudge a film. I’m guilty of that. My expectations going into this film were that, at best, it would be a mildly entertaining, yet brainless, action flick. I was hoping for a shitty film, but was prepared for a just a plain old bad one. But, just as one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the same applies to film titles. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Atomic Blonde”

Stallone Month: Rambo III

In the review for Rambo: First Blood Part II, I lamented that the film marked the end of a budding First Blood franchise, and the start of the Rambo franchise. Indeed, demoting, and then finally excising, the First Blood string from the title is as much a sign of the creative direction in these films as it was a marketing decision to promote the character of John Rambo, and the man who played him. Continue readingStallone Month: Rambo III”

Stallone Month: Rocky IV

This film is, without a doubt, peak Rocky. Gone is the working class Joe with the wicked left. In his place is a warrior for not just the American way, but for the Reagan era. It’s a stunning character transition, and also makes for spectacle of the highest order. Just sit back and say “wow” whenever it feels appropriate. But first, viewers must endure Paulie’s birthday party scene. Continue readingStallone Month: Rocky IV”

Stallone Month: Rambo: First Blood Part II

What a gloriously stupid movie. First Blood, the 1982 film about a disturbed Vietnam vet taking on a county sheriff with a bloated sense of self-importance, was a surprisingly impressive film. It was gritty and low-rent, despite having a big star in the lead. It was an action film that had real world reasons for the action. It was ridiculous and believable at the same time. But today’s film is just a blood and guts cartoon. Continue readingStallone Month: Rambo: First Blood Part II”

October Horrorshow: The War of the Worlds (1953)

The War of the WorldsMonsters, devil worshippers, demons, ghosts, sadomasochistic inter-dimensional travelers...it can get to be too much. It’s time for the Horrorshow to take a step back from all the gore and scary stuff and spend some time with some nice, wholesome alien invaders.

From 1953 and adapted from the famous HG Wells story, The War of the Worlds is not the first alien invasion flick, but it is prototypical. A mass surprise invasion by alien beings in possession of unstoppable destructive power threatens to overwhelm the world. The situation is dire, the entire world mere days or hours from being conquered. But, against the odds, and due to providence, luck, good old-fashioned American ingenuity, or a thorough lack of understanding of the laws of nature on the part of the aliens and the screenwriters, the invaders are vanquished. And I mean vanquished. No alien invaders ever just get beat, or end up slogging into insurgency warfare (with the notable exceptions of and Falling Skies, but that’s on TV). Aliens in these flicks get wiped out, in total, usually in a matter of minutes. The denouement in these films, The War of the Worlds included, can feel a bit rushed. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The War of the Worlds (1953)”

Schwarzenegger Month: Red Heat

Most anyone who became aware of both self and American culture after the 1980s has heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger. They’ve probably seen at least one of his films, or maybe heard that he ran California and had terrible taste in SUVs. That’s not all these people would have in common. They would also all be collectively unaware that, once upon a time, Jim Belushi was famous. That’s right, Millennials and those from the generation-yet-to-be-adequately-named, once upon a time there was a mediocre actor and comedian who punched well above his weight, starring in such films as The Principal, Real Men, K-9, and Red Heat, all of which made money. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Red Heat”